5 Best Shailene Woodley Roles

5 Best Shailene Woodley Roles

After Shailene Woodley spent a few years of her young career doing small, sometimes recurring roles in television shows — such as The O.C., Everybody Loves Raymond, and My Name is Earl — she first broke onto the scene in earnest in 2008 with the young adult television melodrama The Secret Life of the American Teenager.  As the titular teenager — 15-year-old Amy Juergens — Woodley character’s life changes dramatically when she becomes pregnant. It was the most popular show to date on the Freeform network (then called ABC Family).

Following the success of The Secret Life of the American Teenager, she began receiving starring roles in films such as The Descendants, The Spectacular Now and White Bird in a Blizzard. In the years since, she has become an even bigger sensation with two noteworthy leading roles, both in adaptations of young adult novels. She played Hazel Grace Lancaster in the film based on John Green’s pervasive, tragic romance The Fault in Our Stars as well as Beatrice “Tris” Prior in the trilogy of films based off of the dystopian Divergent series of novels. Ansel Elgort co-starred in both adaptations. With such an extensive resume, narrowing Woodley’s career down the highlights is difficult, but here are some of her best roles so far.

The Spectacular Now (2013)

The Spectacular Now is a coming-of-age movie of sorts in which a popular but aimless and hard-partying high school senior (Miles Teller) develops a relationship with a shy student (Woodley) after a night of heavy drinking ends with him waking up on her lawn. It is a really reflective film — one of the best in the genre of stories about contemporary American adolescence.

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The Descendants (2011)

In the Academy Award-winning Alexander Payne drama-comedy The Descendants, a man (George Clooney) struggles with a triumvirate of problems. One, the revelation that his wife, who is comatose and her living will states she be taken off life support, was having an affair. Two, he is made the trustee of a massive piece of ancestral land in Hawaii. Three, he is struggling to reconnect with his daughters (Woodley and Amara Miller), who have both been acting out in their own ways. It is a sweet film.

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Big Little Lies (2017 to Present)

The first season of Big Little Lies is an HBO-produced adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s novel of the same name. It is a female-driven drama about a group of women whose children all attend a prestigious elementary school together—Woodley, Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Nicole Kidman, and Zoe Kravitz — are being questioned by the police with regards to a murder. The audience is initially unaware of who is the victim or the perpetrator; the show continually cuts between the aforementioned questioning and the weeks leading up to it. A second season of the acclaimed show is forthcoming — though there is more mystery surrounding it than the previous season as the first season’s arc went to the end of its source material.

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Adrift (2018)

Adrift is loosely based on the true story of Tami Oldham (played by Woodley) and Richard Sharp (Sam Claflin), a couple whose 1983 attempt to sail their yacht 4000 miles from Tahiti to San Diego was critically disrupted by Hurricane Raymond. The clash with the storm left their boat stripped of its sail and navigational and communication equipment with little hope of survival. The film is beautifully shot — thanks to the massively-talented cinematographer Robert Richardson—and Woodley gives a laudable performance.

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Snowden (2016)

Oliver Stone has made a name for himself in large part through his biographical dramas like Born on the Fourth of July, JFK, The Doors, Nixon, and W. He continued his work in the genre with Snowden, the biopic about Edward Snowden (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the computer technician and former CIA employee who leaked from the National Security Agency classified documents regarding acts of global surveillance it committed. Woodley plays Lindsay Mills, Snowden’s significant other. It is a solid retelling — albeit incomparable to the documentary Citizenfour, also about the eponymous technician.

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